Page 19 - Campus Technology, May/June 2019
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is working with don’t have the same “space” for the same information. “I may have a whole bunch of contact information in one system, but the other system only needs an e-mail address,” she explained. “I have to figure out how to connect the systems so that they have the information that they need and not lose anything in the process.” The tech committee referees those decisions to decide either “which system wins” or whether the difference really matters.
Also, there’s “no one person” who can answer questions about the different systems. That’s where the data integration work undertaken by the technical committee will be useful — “to close the loop and [give us] a comprehensive idea of what’s going on on campus so we can make better strategic decisions based on the most accurate information.”
The Payoff Continues
Both The King’s College and Clemson University are ambitious in their plans for future use of data to streamline operations.
Clemson, for one, is considering the use of badge swipe data for a possible project involv- ing its role in an emergency situation on cam- pus. “If there’s a fire in the building, knowing who’s in the building, how many people are con- nected and things like that would be useful to first responders,” suggested Madhok, adding that the institution is still working out details with stakeholders on that.
But once a school gets “into the integration process and streamlining, you realize just how many more opportunities you have — and more things keep coming to mind,” said King’s Brews- ter. “It’s like, oh, I can do this next or I can auto- mate that process. It’s been hard for me to keep myself from jumping into 100 different projects that I could do.”
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Campus Technology.
Data is never set-it-and-forget-it. That was a hard lesson for Stephanie Brewster, associate director of admissions and new student financial services at The King’s College. “The data that we collect is constantly changing, and that means you have to be responsive in how you adjust or edit the integrations to make sure they’re always up-to-date with the most current processes,” she said. “That was one thing I didn’t quite anticipate.”
The domino effect can prove hazardous or helpful. Fixing a problem in one department’s system can lead to new problems in systems other departments rely on. That’s where
a governance council like King’s tech committee can provide value — to work out the downstream implications of making changes
in an application. As Brewster put it, “We ask ourselves, will this break an integration or will it give an opportunity for another department to jump on board and maybe do something a little bit better?”
Success requires input from people who understand the data. Data analytics efforts need people to help identify where data is missing or duplicated or just doesn’t sound right. Projects need a data steward or data owner who can work alongside the analysts. As Nitin Madhok, director of Business Intelligence & Advanced Data Analytics at Clemson University, pointed out, “They’re the ones who understand the data. We’re the ones who can translate questions that they ask in English into something they can visually see.”
Executive buy-in is essential. Without that, Madhok insisted, he and his team wouldn’t have been able to accomplish much. “High level of support from executive leadership is needed to form a centralized team that is focused solely on analytics and in providing what’s needed in terms of people, the toolsets [and] resources.” 19

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